Warm, Flowing Water on Mars Was Episodic, Study Suggests
New research suggests that warmer temperatures and water flow on ancient Mars were likely related to periodic volcanism early in the planet’s history. Credit: NASA/MRO/Rendering: James Dickson, Brown University
Though the surface of Mars is a dry, dessicated and bitterly cold place today, it is strongly believed that the planet once had rivers, streams, lakes, and flowing water on its surface. Thanks to a combination of spacecraft imagery, remote sensing techniques and surface investigations from landers and rovers, ample evidence has been assembled to support this theory.
However, it is hard to reconcile this view with the latest climate models of Mars which suggest that it should have been a perennially cold and icy place. But according to a new study, the presence of warm, flowing water may have been an episodic occurrence, something that happened for decades or centuries when the planet was warmed sufficiently by volcanic eruptions and greenhouse gases.
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